Renewable energy is energy derived from natural resources that replenish themselves in less than a human lifetime without depleting the planet’s resources. These resources – such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, biomass and thermal energy stored in the earth’s crust – have the benefit of being available in one form or another nearly everywhere. They are virtually inexhaustible. And, what is even more important, they cause little climate or environmental damage.
This type of energy sources stand in contrast to fossil fuels, which are being used far more quickly than they are being replenished. Although most renewable energy is sustainable energy, some is not, for example some biomass is unsustainable.
Fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas on the contrary are available in finite quantities only. As we keep extracting them, they will run out sooner or later. Although they are produced in natural processes, they do not replenish as quickly as we humans use them.
Like any human activity, all energy sources have an impact on our environment. Renewable energy is no exception to the rule, and each source has its own trade-offs. However, the advantages over the devastating impacts of fossil fuels are undeniable: from the reduction of water and land use, less air and water pollution, less wildlife and habitat loss, to no or lower greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, their local and decentralised characters as well as technology development generate important benefits for the economy and people.
In context of Nepal, electricity generated from hydropower (megawatt scale, small, mini and micro hydropower plants), Solar photo voltaic system, wind and waste to energy plants are renewable energy. Likewise, biogas plants, Solar thermal systems, improved cookstoves and some other technologies are used as alternative energy technologies non-electricity generating renewable energy technologies.Renewable energy technologies are applicated with objectivesto reduce indoor air pollution, forest conservation, reduction of work- loads and utilisation of waste as raw materials. Minimise use of fossil fuels is also one of the objectives as this will reduce import of fossil fuels.
Nepal has done a lot for promotion of renewable energy technologies so far. So as the government mentions that 93% of total households have been connected with national grid system. Rest of the households will be connected within 3 years to come.
This is also to noteworthy that Microhydro, Solar PV and other technologies had contributed to electrify a portion of total electrified so far.
Renewable energy technologies are instrumental in maintaining the global temperature to rise beyond 1.5 degree Celsius by end of the 21st century. The world community is seriously taking this issue.
Recently released report of Intergovernment Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) states thatClimate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame.
It has underlined the importance role of RETs to substitute to fossil fuels to reduce the warming ratio.
One other research document clarify saying — all societies require energy services to meet basic human needs (e.g., lighting, cooking, space comfort, mobility, communication) and to serve productive processes. For development to be sustainable, delivery of energy services needs to be secure and have low environmental impacts. Sustainable social and economic development requires assured and affordable access to the energy resources necessary to provide essential and sustainable energy services. This may mean the application of different strategies at different stages of economic development. Renewable energy sources play a role in providing energy services in a sustainable manner and, in particular, in mitigating climate change.
In the absence of any climate policy, the overwhelming majority of the baseline scenarios exhibit considerably higher emissions in 2100 compared to 2000, implying rising CO2 concentrations and, in turn, enhanced global warming. Depending on the underlying socioeconomic scenarios and taking into account additional uncertainties, global mean temperature is expected to rise and to approach a level between 1.1°C and 6.4°Cover the 1980 to 1999 average by the end of this century. To avoid adverse impacts of such climate change on water resources, ecosystems, food security, human health and coastal settlements with potentially irreversible abrupt changes in the climate system, the Cancun Agreements call for limiting global average temperature rises to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial values, and agreed to consider limiting this rise to 1.5°C.
Sustainable Development Goals, Sustainable Energy for All are the climate related global activities where the RETs are taken in the focus. 100% RE and Net Zero Emission are newly added important movements. The global organisations are putting efforts for the successful implementations in all over the world. Mainly the campaigners are looking forward to positive way outs form upcoming COP 26 to be held in Glasgow, during 1 and 12 November 2021. The Conference of the Parties is also expected to repair and regain the spirit of COP 21 held in Paris in 2015.
RETs in Nepal
As said above RETs are expected to generate enough energy need for Nepal. This will substitute use of fossil fuel in industries, MSCIs, transportation, residential uses, agriculture, health, communication, health, education and so on.
The Federal Government, ProvincialGovernments and important agencies are urging general people to use electricity based machines, devices or appliances. A consumer friendly electricity tariff is in the offing for this effect, influential government personalities are stating these days. Similarly, the government has announced to provide 20 unit free electricity to poor people which will be brought into effect soon. Easier tax rules for importing electric vehicles, preparing to operate electric buses in some cities and intra cities, installation of electric vehicle charging stations are the positive gestures of widening electric transportation in the country. Likewise, extending support for electric cooking as clean cooking solutions, Solar PV pumping for drinking water and irrigation is also appreciable steps. The governmental priority for actions to promote electricity for industries, MSCIs, transportation, residential uses, agriculture, health, communication, health, education and so on are the investments for public health to improve, support forest conservation, enhance agricultural activities. Creation of employment is one of the important impacts of all such activities. (By R.P. Narayan)